Could women do more to close the gender paygap?

Despite UK wages increasing at a rate faster than inflation since 2018, women are less likely than men to ask for this to be reflected in their pay, and should beware equal percentage pay rises. We give some ideas for both employee and employer to consider.

advice for women wanting to ask for pay rise
More than half of women avoid asking for a pay rise, according to a 2019 survey of 1,200 UK workers, conducted on behalf of CV Library. Only 43 per cent of women are comfortable asking for a pay rise, whilst 64 per cent of men are happy to do so. In spite of the fact that one-third of women state that they believe they are over qualified for their current role, data shows that women seem less likely to approach or instigate a conversation around money in the workplace. The research shows that more than half of women (55 per cent) avoid talking about a pay rise with their boss. In fact, a growing number of women prioritise a work-life balance, flexible working options and better hours over money. 

Average weekly income increasing generally

In the UK, wages have been increasing at a faster rate than inflation since 2018. According to statistics released by the Office for National Statistics, the average weekly income for full-time workers has seen a year-on-year increase of 2.9 per cent, rising from £568 to £585. Looking at salary expectations versus reality, research collated by Instant Offices reveals that in  2019 UK wages saw the fastest rise in just over a decade, increasing by 3.9 per cent in a three month period.
Workers who:MenWomen
Feel comfortable asking for an increase64%43%
Have never negotiated their salary40%55%
Are more likely to negotiate working hours than pay41%56%
Are more likely to negotiate on specific parts of a job55%42%

Planning a money conversation with your boss

To help employees plan to approach their manager about the topic of money in the workplace, Instant Offices has provided some key steps:1. Take a diplomatic approach to your reasoning and remove a sense of entitlement. The hardest part of stating you want a pay rise is doing so without using the words “I want a pay rise”. Phrases such as “I want” or “I deserve” will have no merit, especially if you can’t prove your worth to your employer. Have a list of reasons justifying why it would be in your manager’s best interest to pay you more, with emphasis always on your ability and what you can bring to the department and company.2. Meet in person, but get in touch with your manager in advance to warn them. It is advisable to prepare your manager for the upcoming discussion to allow them to prepare also; they may need to talk to the finance team, or even promote you to a more senior role. Send an email outlining your request and a suggested date for a face-to-face meeting to sit and discuss things in full. 3. Don’t threaten to leave, unless you’re actually prepared to. If you’re wanting a pay rise, unless you have another job offer lined up, it is not sensible to threaten to quit. The worst case scenario is that your employer says no, and you have no other card to play, resulting in long-term doubt about your loyalty to the company. However, the best case is that your current employer tries to match the offer.4. Do some research and be realistic. Having a look at the average wage within your industry and field can set a realistic benchmark. Remember though, that this is just an average and roles and responsibilities always differ and will affect salary, as will experience.5. Think about the timing. If your company has just announced new budgets, restructuring or cuts, then factor that in accordingly. You don’t have to wait for your annual review, or even a pay review, just choose a suitable time when there isn’t significant pressure on your manager or the business as a whole.6. Have confidence. Although a conversation about a pay rise can be unnerving, planning ahead and possibly even writing a script, or running through it with a friend, can help prepare you for the conversation to come. This can also alleviate feelings of anxiety, allowing you to have confidence, make eye contact and present your points clearly.7. Make it about more than just money. Although it is a conversation about pay, try to make it a discussion that is more than just about salary. Focus on career progression, training and other possible perks, which can show you’re invested in your role at the company, and looking to develop in it rather than simply looking for more cash.

How should employers help close the gap? 

Anita Tweats, CEO of of The Finance People advises on how businesses can best redress the imbalance between male and female salaries, which still stood at 8.9% across the UK in 2019 (Office for National Statistics and has barely fallen since 2012 - despite much tough talk on the issue. This can achieved, she says, by banning salary disclosures when hiring new candidates and promoting existing employees."It is time to stop the continuing and dated practice of disclosing salaries during the recruitment process and offering equal percentage pay rises that seem fair but actually widen the gender pay gap exponentially.“I would urge every company, whatever their size, to disregard old pay slips and focus on how much the future contributions someone could make are worth, regardless of gender.”

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